Cincinnati Bengals 2014 Season Preview: Week 8 vs. Baltimore Ravens
Dec 29, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Baltimore Ravens running back Bernard Pierce (30) runs the ball against Cincinnati Bengals safety Chris Crocker (32) and safety Reggie Nelson (20) in the first half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
The second meeting for these teams come at the week 8 mark, but this time at Paul Brown Stadium. The major advantage for the Bengals is their more recent play at home last year going 8-0. The problem for the Ravens has been their road record going only 2-6 on the road last year.
In the first meeting, I have the Ravens edging 17-13 in a tough and physical AFC North battle. A win in week one could light a fire under the Bengals to prove they can defend Paul Brown Stadium and continue their win streak at home.
The Bengals offense is going to still have to step up with a talented younger core, which could be exposed in week 1, will have some experience in week 8 for a better matchup both in the passing and rushing games.
The defense will again be working to get the ball away from Joe Flacco and the Ravens offense, which they have had success in past matchups. They face a talented core and will still need to be on their toes and ready for tough and physical play.
Cincinnati Bengals Strengths: Both teams have tough schedules and with the real threat of injuries for both of these teams, it may come down to who is the healthiest. These teams have been fairly equal, when it comes to the regular season, in the past 2 years and the Bengals depth have the edge for this matchup.
Baltimore Ravens Strengths: The Ravens have a strong proven leader in their offense and with the loss of a lot of veteran presence, a clear leader in Flacco is going to help keep this team together. If their running game is successful then the offense will open up more.
Cincinnati Bengals Weakness: Although the offense has been this teams weakest link, they seem to refuse to be shown up at home. The biggest concern is the wear and tear as the season wears on. The early bye week this could prove to be difficult over a 16 game season.
Baltimore Ravens Weakness: They will play 7 games with no real rest before they play the Bengals in Cincinnati. Wear and tear will be a concern with the Ravens as well, which will make a more even playing field. This is a young team with a lot of learning to do.
Cincinnati Bengals Keys to the Game: Wear down this defense and offensive line quickly to be more efficient and winning battles up front. Establish a balanced offense and keep this defense guessing and on its toes.
Baltimore Ravens Keys to the Game: Establish the run game early and protect Flacco. The defense needs to limit big plays and keep the offense in check.
Prediction: The Bengals are very good at home and the Ravens are iffy on the road. Division games are always hard to predict but I see the Bengals win in convincing fashion 30-20. Depth and injuries play a key to this prediction.